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Research helps life after breast cancer be about more than surviving

October 18th, 2017

With more women developing breast cancer and surviving, the lifetime burden for them and the healthcare system is growing year by year.

In 2017 it is expected that over 17,500 women and men will be diagnosed with breast cancer – that’s an increase of more than a third in the past 10 years.

Thankfully, the rate of survival has improved substantially as research provides answers to this complex disease.

With more people being diagnosed but less people dying, there is a growing population of those living with the aftermath of a breast cancer diagnosis – the treatment, the scars, the pain, the fatigue, fear it may return, and the list goes on.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation’s mission is to fund research towards a goal of zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030. This can be achieved by supporting outstanding research focused on prevention, early diagnosis and better treatments. Discoveries in these areas have saved lives in the past and the accelerating pace of research will save more lives in future.

This means that by 2030, there will be even more people who are trying to piece their lives back together after the devastation that breast cancer leaves long after it is eradicated from the body.

These women and men will deal with many ongoing health complications as a result of the harsh treatments they have endured. This is distressing for them and their loved ones, and is also an ongoing concern for the healthcare system.

Research is our best hope for improving the quality of life for women and men during and after treatment for breast cancer as we get closer to 100% survival for those diagnosed.

How research is helping

Research into less toxic treatments, that could target the cancerous cells without attacking healthy cells, reducing the radiation needed, less invasive surgery, removing less lymph nodes are already underway and should be kinder to future generations of women and men.

The emerging field of personalised treatment is beginning to determine whether some women may not even need certain treatments depending on the genetic make-up of their tumour.

Making treatments kinder is important to give women the best possible chance for a healthy future, but not all side-effects from breast cancer are physical.

The psychological and emotional toll can be long-lasting, often involving body image concerns, intimacy issues, relationship breakdowns, depression and anxiety. Research is also needed to help with emotional wellbeing.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation funds many research projects that aim to help women with breast cancer lead longer, healthier lives – to not only survive, but to live.